Finite Volume Community Ocean Model

The Scottish Shelf Model (SSM) is an implementation of the Finite Volume Community Ocean Model (FVCOM). FVCOM was developed by the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, USA, by Chen et al. (2003) and is still actively being developed. FVCOM is a three dimensional (3D) ocean model using the finite volume method to discretise the governing equations in integral form and solve them numerically using the finite difference method over the computational grid. FVCOM uses an unstructured irregular grid in the horizontal plane, composed of triangular elements which can vary in shape and size. The irregular grid can form complex shapes, such as coastlines and islands, and enables the grid to be easily refined in specific areas of interest to give a higher horizontal resolution, whilst modelling open sea areas with a lower resolution. This minimises the computational expense and, despite the change in resolution, keeps the model as a single unified system. The vertical plane is discretised using a generalised terrain following (sigma layer) coordinate system. FVCOM has a modular structure enabling certain features, such as atmospheric forcing and sediment transport, to be turned on and off depending on the application.

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Example model grid for waters off the east coast of Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides showing the irregular grid with refined detail around islands and headlands